When my son died three years ago, I struggled with fi nding a way to cope with the loss, honor his memory, and find joy in my life again. My wonderful friend Pam Pappas-Stanoch shared
with me stories of Rwandan genocide survivors and their ability to find joy in their lives after they had lost everything they owned and, in many cases, everyone they loved. Last September Pam and I decided to honor Eric’s memory and learn more about the resilience of the Rwandan people by working with Books for Africa and the Rwandan Ambassador’s office to build a memorial library for Eric. The timing was perfect, as Rwanda had just made English their offi cial language two years previously.
Six months later, and by God’s grace, that single library is now seven memorial libraries (kind of a mini-system!). St. Thomas Academy, Visitation, numerous family and friends, Thompson- Reuters, and Merck have all made signifi cant contributions. The shipping has begun, and in September Pam and I plan to visit Rwanda and dedicate the libraries. Currently memorial libraries will be placed at The Wisdom School (elementary) in rural Rwanda (Musanze), The Dental School in Kigali, Catholic University of Save, Group Scolaire of Kigali, and Group Scolaire of Butare. Brand new (and complete) memorial law libraries specifi cally designed for emerging democracies in Africa through the Law and Democracy Initiative and sponsored by Thompson-Reuters will be sent to the Faculty of Law, National University of Rwanda in Kigali and the Faculty of Law, National University of Law in Butare.
What I hope to work on next (and we are getting some interest from some dental school students) is to work through Books for Africa to develop a Dental School Library based specifically on the needs of emerging African nations and hopefully get some sponsorship through dental publishers! Because this is an ongoing project, interested parties may send basic dental books, handbooks, and reference manuals (PDRs, Accepted Dental Therapeutics, and so on) to Books for Africa or bring the books to the warehouse in Saint Paul. Box the books with the label EJH Library, Dental, Rwanda, and they will be directed accordingly. After my trip in September, I hope to have a better idea of specific needs. Of course, we always appreciate donations to cover shipping costs. It costs approximately $1.00 a book for textbooks to ship. We raised almost $22,000 for shipping the 20,000 books to the seven libraries. Monetary donations should also be labeled EJH Library, Dental Rwanda, and sent to Books for Africa. For further information go to the website www.booksfor africa.org/donate/to-project.html
. Although the first
shipment is being sent, the project is only beginning. There is so much need, and so much needed. We have, truly, only just begun.